Pitch your Startup at ConnecteDriver & Smart Mobility 2017

On February 1st and 2nd the 4th annual ConnecteDriver & Smart Mobility event will take place in Brussels sponsored by TomTom, RideCell, Telenav, V-Traffic and Inov360.


The event will feature a pitch session opened to startups on the first evening of the conference where founders will present their business to key decision makers in the automotive and smart mobility industries.

Interested parties should contact Ludovic Privat at ludovic@connectedriver.com with a short slidedeck explaining what you do, who you are, and how your innovation will create value in the automotive and smart mobility industries.

Invensense Licenses Inertial Navigation Tech to Huawei

InvenSense, the worldwide provider of MEMS sensors, today announced that their Invensense Positioning Library (IPL) software sensor-assisted positioning technology has been licensed by Huawei for incorporation into the Kirin 950 mobile application processor platforms.

The recently launched Huawei Mate 8 smartphone is the first model to incorporate the the Kirin 950 and IPL technology.

The combination of sensor positioning with GNSS enhances navigation user experience by eliminating “GPS Signal Lostâ€? warnings and unnecessary re-routings in map applications due to GNSS multipath errors.

IPL uses algorithms that take sensor data from the mobile device gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer and barometric pressure sensors to generate an inertial navigation system (INS) that tracks the position change of a vehicle or pedestrian. IPL then combines the INS with GNSS to provide always-available and more accurate location data when GNSS is inaccurate or unavailable.

In the Heart of TomTom Maps

On a sunny afternoon in Boston I jumped in the front passenger seat of a TomTom branded, 2015 Ford Escape. But this was not for an usual ride since the vehicle was featuring a full array of high tech gear attached to the roof rack: a Velodyne Lidar camera, a 360 degree camera, two SICK radars, and high precision GPS and GLONASS antennas.

The Velodyne HDL 32E generates a point cloud of 700,000 points per second with a range of 70 meters an a typical accuracy of 2 centimeters. The two SICK radar are covering the dead angles, centered on the ground on the back of the car.

At the same time a “Ladybug“ camera takes a 360 degree view from its 6 lenses with a 30 megapixel resolution every 8 meters.

In addition to a precision odometer was attached to on of the wheels of the car and an inertial measurement unit completed the whole solution.

All of that was connected to a rack of technology located in the backseat: a server to process the data and two 3Tb hard disc drives – one for work and one for back-up. All of that is powered by a generator that is obviously quite different from my usual 12 volt cigarette lighter.

The Mapping van organization

At the wheel is Kevin Foy, Team Lead responsible for the North American operation of TomTom’s MoMa (mobile mapping) fleet. Usually is role is not in the field but coordinating drivers that have been tasked to drive certain areas all over the country.

Mapping roads at a country-wide level requires quite an organization. Snow and rain are your first enemies, then you need to cope with sun: “we are carefully avoiding to drive one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset to shoot usable 360 views“ explained Foy.

Because of those constraint a significant part of mapping campaigns are done in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

The TomTom data collection fleet is quite automated so drivers are riding alone and keeping an eye on both their drive and the whole hardware installed in the car. They drive for about a week, eight to ten hours a day then the car goes to another driver and so on.

Map making: a million updates a day

But mapping vans are just the emerged part of the map making process. From the Boston suburb Kevin Foy drove us to Lebanon, New Hampshire, where TomTom has its North American map development center.

Before TomTom the company was called Tele Atlas (acquired in 2007) and there are still many employees at the site that where initially hired by GDT (for Geographic Data Technology), a company acquired by Tele Atlas in 2004.

About 700 people are working in Lebanon and the rest of the mapping division (1,500 people in total) – apart from field people located in about 40 countries – is located in three global offices: Gent, Belgium (the original headquarter of Tele Atlas), Lodz, Poland and Pune, India.


Samsung Adds SigFox Network to Artik IoT Modules

Low power, low bandwidth network supplier Sigfox today announced the integration of its network protocol in the new Samsung ARTIK platform and Samsung Ventures’ investment in the company.

Samsung ARTIK is an open platform that’s designed to enable faster and simpler development of new enterprise, industrial and consumer applications for the IoT. The platform includes a family of integrated production-ready modules, advanced software, development boards, drivers, tools, security features and cloud connectivity.

With the introduction of the Samsung ARTIK platform, we set out to accelerate innovation in hardware, software and services for the IoT, to allow the technology to more quickly tackle global challenges,” said Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung Electronics.

“As part of our Samsung ARTIK ecosystem, SIGFOX technology represents a key step forward for the IoT, as it makes it simpler for developers to create low-cost, low-power devices and services that easily connect to the network.”

Google I/O: Update on Project Tango: Indoor Mapping, Geolocation & AR

At the Google I/O conference last week in San Francisco the Mountain View company updated developers about Project Tango, a technology that uses motion tracking, area learning, and depth perception to precisely map an indoor space and locate itself in it.

The technology is running on a tablet which was initially produced to a few hundred pieces but it is now available (in the United States) on the shelves from Google for $512, a low cost device compared to its specifications: Tegra processor, camera, MEMS sensors, infrared sensor, etc.

During the presentation the Google engineer on stage demonstrated the various possibilities offered by the technology. Beyond a pure indoor location usage, the technology offers two opportunities to link the real and the virtual : in one case a virtual object can be brought and located in a real place, in the other case a real object or a complete location (a living room for example) can be scanned and imported in a virtual setting such as a game.

The precision reached by Google with the sensors onboard the tablet is quite high, about one percent drift (1 meter error when you move 100 meters).

While the current tablet has been developed in cooperation with Nvidia, Google announced another partnership with Qualcomm to enable Project Tango on a snapdragon chipset. While this is still at the stage of a reference design, it is likely that project Tango will come to a smartphone one day or another.

To further develop the ecosystem of developers around Project Tango, Google also launched a competition at the I/O conference with a prize value of $95,000 and three segments: Utility, VR & AR and entertainment.

watch below the full presentation from the conference:

Q&A with CSR About Indoor Location Android SDK

British semiconductor vendor CSR announced two weeks ago (read here) the upcoming availability of an indoor location technology SDK for the Android platform. GPS Business News spoke to CSR’s Product Line Director Dave Huntingford to learn more.

GPS Business News: You have announced for the first quarter of 2015 an Android SDK with indoor location, can you give us an overview of this product?

Dave Huntingford: Let me give you a bit of background first. As you probably know, back in 2009 CSR acquired SiRF the leader in GPS chipsets. Already at that time we knew that the challenge in the future would be to bring this precise location experience from the outdoor to indoor.

So we started investing in pedestrian dead reckoning, trying to count steps and heading based on sensors. But on its own this was not sufficient, after half an hour or an hour indoor true location drift was so big that it was not usable.

So we went back to the drawingboard and we started looking at a fusion system that would bring together GPS, WiFi geolocation, and inertial sensors. This is how we came up with SiRFusion that we are announcing now.

SirFusion is an SDK for the Android operating system that allows developers to integrate indoor location in their applications. The SDK uses standard Android APIs for WiFi, MEMS inertial sensors data and GPS. It updates and queries our database of Wi-Fi signals in the cloud. This integrates a crowdsourcing approach where each device in the field gather data for our database that is then used by all SDK users.

In addition to that we will be able to augment the capabilities of the SDK in the future, for example adding the location of Bluetooth beacons.

GPS BN: What about the accuracy?

DH: this is typically 5 meter of accuracy, but it is often better if there is a good WiFi coverage.

GPS BN: When is it going to be available?

DH: We are targeting the middle of the first quarter for a deployable SDK, after having demonstrated the technology at the CES trade show early January in Las Vegas.

GPS BN: What about the coverage of your database at launch?

DH: To be honest at start the database will be fairly empty, apart from the places where we have been doing real world tests. We will start from scratch, but we might find a partner that can help fueling this database.

GPS BN: And what about power consumption?

DH: There is no question that the multiple sensors we use through the SDK are consuming power. This is why the SDK only locates the device when the app is on and the screen is on. However in the longer term we are obviously looking at offering this technology embedded in a chipset-based solution. This obviously will be much more power efficient.

GPS BN: Do you expect to have a SDK for iPhone at a later stage?

DH: As you might know, unfortunately iOS does not give developers access to WiFi signal strength data, so without that we cannot offer a good location.


OriginGPS Launches 4x4x2.1mm GPS Module

OriginGPS yesterday announced the launch of the Nano Spider, which is possibly the world’s smallest fully integrated GPS module.

“The wearable technology trend requires components that balance a small size with high-performance and best-in-class power consumption,” said Gal Jacobi, CEO of OriginGPS. “OriginGPS aims to continue to shrink the size of components, while increasing features to make adding location functionality possible for every device.”

OriginGPS’ Nano Spider continuously tracks all GPS satellites in view and provides real-time positioning data in the NMEA format.

The Nano Spider offers a complete System in Package (SiP) that includes: a low noise amplifier (LNA), surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter, temperature controlled crystal oscillator (TCXO) and real time clock (RTC) crystal, a power management unit, and radio frequency (RF) shielding.

The Nano Spider module offers accuracy of approximately one meter, achieves a time to first fix (TTFF) of less than one second and tracking sensitivity of -163dBm.

This module is smaller than what u-blox has unveiled with its EVA-M8M (7 x 7 x 1.1 mm) – read more here. However the u-bloc product is not limited to GPS and supports GLONASS, BeiDou, and QZSS.

Vehcon to Offer Mileage Solution for $1 Per Vehicle Per Year

Smartphone-based telematics supplier Vehcon has announced MVerity, a new offering for insurance companies, which provides accurate mileage readings for underwriting, claims, and usage-based insurance (UBI) for less than $1 per vehicle per year.

“Our patent-protected system completely avoids the cost, complexity and privacy intrusion of hardware ‘dongles’ or smartphone tracking systems,” said Fred Blumer, CEO of Vehcon.

MVerity is a mobile app that allows drivers to capture themselves their VIN number and their odometer reading through a camera snapshot of both numbers. Available now, MVerity can be embedded into existing mobile apps of insurance companies, or made available as a white-label or stand-alone solution.

According to Vehcon, miles driven is a primary predictor of driver risk, comprising over 70% of the risk models for usage-based insurance filings throughout the United States. Therefore the insurance companies can offer simple UBI policies at a fraction of the cost of an OBD dongle.

ABI: Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek, u-blox & CSR Lead GNSS Chipset Market

A newly released ​ranking of GNSS chipsets vendor by ABI Research concluded Qualcomm is the leading GPS IC vendor, followed by Broadcom in second place, MediaTek in third, u-bloc in fourth and CSR at the fifth position.

ABI’s vendor matrix compares companies on 17 criteria across the broader categories of GNSS Innovation and Implementation.

According to the research, Qualcomm remains the dominant player with a very strong ubiquitous location platform in IZat–this will be vital for success in high volume cellular handsets in 2015. It is also in a strong position to grow in other GNSS markets.

Broadcom continues to compete aggressively through innovation. Earlier this year Broadcom announced its concurrent tri-band BCM 47531 IC and the BCM 4771 GNSS SoC designed for wearables, featuring a sensor hub and always-on capabilities. Finally it has also announced its 5G Wi-Fi SoC, which supports AccuLocate, its new proprietary fine timing Wi-Fi measurement technology.

MediaTek has now emerged as a major threat, taking third on innovation and 2012 market share rankings, following very impressive shipments of its combo ICs into local Chinese smartphone manufacturers. It is also strong on PNDs/recreational and cameras, with a growing presence in other markets.

Its move to fully embedded GPS in 2013 should prove significant in driving market share in the future.

Switzerland-based u-blox has also moved up a position to fourth in this year’s assessment. It continues to grow revenue year-on-year, with little to suggest this will change in the coming year.

It is also the first time u-blox has finished ahead of british semiconductor maker CSR, which was ranked fifth.

“CSR continues to transition and faces another arduous year in 2014. It will be 2015/16 when the effects of these tough decisions are proven out to be correct or not,“ ABI wrote.